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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas and Kadima made significant progress in their coalition talks on Sunday, all but paving the way for a partnership in the forming government.
Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai managed to agree on the major issues that prevented Shas from joining the coalition.
The two party leaders agreed that Shas would receive four portfolios: industry, trade and labor, not including the Israel Land Administration, the communications portfolio, a minister in charge of religious services, and a minister without portfolio who will probably serve as a minister in the Finance or Education Ministry.
In addition, it was agreed that there would not be any legislation on a civil marriage clause, which initially stated, "The government will introduce, without delay, legislation to solve the problem of those unable to get married." According to the agreement, such a decision would not be taken unless all coalition members accept it.
Another obstacle was the wording of one of the principal clauses by which "Israel's territory, whose border will be decided by the government, will necessitate a reduction of the areas of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria." A senior source in Shas said last night, "We can't sign that." In Sunday's meeting, Yishai was apparently pleased with a new wording.
Shas' Council of Torah Sages convened at 21:00 on Sunday to approve the agreement.